Lost, bothered and bewildered

‘Lost’ has jumped the shark. Back in the halcyon era of “Happy Days” an episode aired in which Fonzie water-ski jumped a shark. Considered the tipping point of the series, this moment has come to be know as the defining demarcation of a television series’ slide into the mire. As Wikipedia explains, these moments “are typically scenes that finally convince viewers that the show has fundamentally and permanently strayed from its original premise”.

I have watched every episode of Lost broadcast including up to episode 7 of season 3 and and anyone else who has will know exactly what I mean. Until this point Lost had taken a place alongside The Sopranos and 24 as being one of a new breed of multi-layered, complex television dramas that epitomised the rise of Steven Johnson’s Sleeper Curve.

Lost needed no ‘flashing arrows’ to indicate important screen elements, it had complex mythology, multiple plot-lines, cross-overs, time-slips and more. Yet in series three we’re treated instead to obvious placements of characters and props, heavy-handed flashbacks and dialogue that, with little regard for subtlety, hold the audience’s hand through the first episodes.

The series was criticised in season two for it’s complex mythology and the writers reportedly toned it down for season three preferring to focus on relationships but in doing so the story (and I’m beginning to suspect there isn’t really one) is becoming laboured and sentimental.

Adding to the criticisms, the writers seem to ignore fundamental parts of earlier series:

:: What happened to the cave or the mortal dangers in the forest from Season 1? They never get mentioned despite the fact that the cave would still occupy a useful function for the beach dwellers. The beach dwellers are all seemingly content with their existence yet it doesn’t seem that long ago that a stroll in the woodland would result in a ferocious unexplained chase and attack.

:: What about food? With the hatch destroyed are they all relying on the airdrops for stores? With Locke off wandering around trying to unravel the island’s mystery who’s hunting for boar?

:: What about ‘the button’ – with the hatch destroyed how is the electromagnetic status being maintained?

:: What about Walt and Michael’s captors? What about the illusion of poverty in The Others’ camp?

:: What about Rousseau, her experiences, her maps, the French annotations?

:: What about the numbers? The black and white stones? The island’s healing properties – (which incidentally didn’t seem to work for Ecko’s mortal injuries or Ben’s tumour)

By ignoring these elements from earlier series the writers have lost credibility. The very nature of the show has meant viewers have absorbed masses of seemingly incidental information with the belief that it will be required to piece together plotlines later in the series. Remembering characters in flashbacks, the maps in the hatch, the cross-reference dialogues. Investing this amount of time in a series needs to be rewarded and, in this regard, I believe Lost is beginning to pay more attention to what clips will get salacious edits up on YouTube (and subsequent audience figure increases) than they are with continuing to form a complex, well-considered and intriguing drama.


Paul said...

I'm not sure if Lost has jumped the shark yet, but it certainly isn't living up to expectations set in season 1.

The big problem is there are simply too mainy characters... and the writers are concentrating on Jack / Sawer / Kate too much. For me the most interesting characters are Locke, Desmond and Sayid, but they have been absent for most of the 3rd season.

However, episodes centric to the characters above (like the latest Desmond episode) are usually excellent and the hope of another Locke episode is why I'll keep watching.

On a side note, things like what the numbers are HAVE been explained via "The Lost Experiance" online game... more information here:

smorgasbord-design said...

Paul ... just found this, a (not exactly comprehensive or particularly readable) list of reasons why Lost has jumped the shark.

Jump The Shark - Lost